November is National Diabetes Month and the Center for Disease Control reports that there are 29.1 million people diagnosed and undiagnosed, that are challenged with this disease in the United States. As a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) I focus on wise food choices throughout the year. As the holiday season unfolds, I want to give people the tools to eat well and wisely.
In planning menus and choosing items from those often served at holiday meals denyabetes can afflict the meal planner as well as those dining at the table. As the host or hostess, it is important to include options for those who may have challenges with what some folks dismiss as “just a little sugar.” In putting together a menu of traditional dishes, which tend to be carbohydrate heavy remember to control diabetes it is essential to manage carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrates are necessary nutrients that are the fuel for energy—however if diabetes is a factor, carbs must be monitored. Carbohydrates are starches, sugars and fiber. Now let’s look at some of the dishes typically found on the Thanksgiving menu.
Snacks and Appetizers These often include cheese and crackers, dips or cocktail-size frankfurters. Good for you options to substitute are fresh vegetables in place of salty snacks such as chips or pretzels. Limit the cheese which can be high in fat and calories and ditch the baby frankfurters for lean lunchmeat rolled in lettuce leaves.
Side Dishes Folks do love potatoes—mashed, scalloped or sweet. It is not the potato itself that gets the bad rap; it’s the additions of butter, cheese, milk, sour cream and other goodies. If making potatoes opt for low-fat milk or plain Greek-style yogurt in place of cream and sour cream. If sweet potatoes are on the list, cut back on the amount of butter, sugar and marshmallows. Sweet potatoes are a real power food, but if pairing the sweets with the previous list, the power punch is knocked out! Include roast or steamed green vegetables, baked squash and a tossed green salad.
Now turkey stuffing is in the side-dish category—this too can be more wholesome if you use a little less butter or margarine, use sodium-reduced broth and whole grain bread or brown rice, depending on the type of stuffing you are making.
Main Dishes Turkey is the star attraction on most tables; however, it can also be joined by ham or roast beef. These are protein foods without any carbohydrates. Limit servings to 3 to 4-ounce portions. If turkey is your main-dish choice, go for roasted turkey and not deep-fried. Choose turkey breast and remove the skin. If gravy is on the must have list, limit to a couple of tablespoons or half a ladle of gravy.
Dessert I know this is the where so many slip up. Don’t deny yourself dessert, choose half-size portions, forgo caramel, chocolate and whipped toppings. If eggnog is in the picture, pour a juice-size glass or make the beverage your dessert in place of cake or pie.
These are some of the tools and guidelines for good and healthy eating during the holidays. Diabetes is serious but by making wise choices as the host or guest, folks can eat well, enjoy the season, and keep well-being goals insight.
Take Away: You can enjoy seasonal holidays by making good choices to eat well and manage the Diabetes challenge.
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